Nationals – swimmer’s perspective

Last week from July 5th-8th, 2012, United States Master’s Swimming hosted the 2012 summer nationals in Omaha, NE.  This year was especially exciting because the meet was in the Olympic Trials pool inside the Century Link Center in Omaha.  I was lucky enough to get to participate in the meet and experience a little of what the Olympic Trials swimmers experienced the week before.  The set up of the pools was left the same as it was for the trials swimmers, so if you watched Trials on TV you can see how it was.

I qualified and swam in 5 individual events the, 50m, 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle and the 200m Individual Medley.  I also swam with the Missouri Valley Master’s Club (MOVY) and swam on the men’s 200 free relay, mixed 200 free relay, men’s 200 medley relay (backstroke leg), and the mixed 200 medley relay (backstroke leg).  It was exciting to be participating in a major competition again, my first since graduating college.  All the big meet touches and atmosphere were present.  They had a great announcer who announced and gave narration during the races.  The jumbotron was on and broadcasting the races as well.  The whole meet was broadcast throughout the TVs in the Century Link Center and broadcast on the web as well. The Omega timing system with the high-tech digital camera back up system was timing the meet and all results were displayed on the jumbotron beside your name.  The blocks were the high-tech Myrtha blocks with built-in reaction timing mechanism.  Your reaction time to the starting buzzer was displayed on the scoreboard after take off from the blocks.  It was my first time using the blocks with the fin on the back.  It took some getting used to, but USMS had volunteer coaches on the decks that gave advice on the best way to utilize the blocks.  The fin on the back is adjustable from 1-5 and it took a few starts to find the best setting for me.  Then it took a few starts to figure out the best placement of my back foot on the fin (have the ball of your foot about halfway up the fin), but they definitely give you an extra boost off the blocks and were a great experience to use.  The competition pool itself is the fastest in the word.  Using science and technology Myrtha builds the pools specifically to swim fast.  The pool was 2.5 meters deep to prevent currents from rebounding off the bottom, the lanes were extra wide and the ropes prevented waves from coming from the other lanes.  The gutters were overflow gutters so the water did not rebound off the walls and come back.  All the jets and filtering system components were kept deep in the bottom of the pool to prevent any currents from affecting the swimmers.  The water was kept at 81 degrees, so as not to be too hot or too cold for racing.

The warm up pool was an exact replica of the competition pool and was in the convention hall next to the arena.  There was another scoreboard inside the warm up area so you could warm up and keep an eye on the current event and heat that was swimming while warming up.  There was also a 25m 6 lane pool attached to the warm up pool with sprint lanes to practice starts from the blocks.  All in all there was plenty of warm up area to get ready for races and cool down afterwards.  There was also a slimmed down version of the aqua zone that they had at Olympic Trials.  Several vendors stayed at the meet and were selling their products at discounted rates.  Speedo, TYR, Blueseventy, Garmin, Nike, and other vendors were there.  Garmin brought fifty of their soon to be released Garmin Swim watches that could be tried out before buying.  The watches will be released to the public in August and will retail for $150.  During warm ups I was able to snag one of the watches to try out and loved it.  I will get a full review up soon.

The whole experience was a lot of fun and I am definitely looking forward to swimming in more master’s swim meets.  It was exciting to see so many different master’s swimmers from all ages and backgrounds.  Ages of people participating in the meet ranged from 18-91 and every age in between.  There were several former Olympians swimming in the meet with the most recent being, Misty Hyman (gold medallist in the 200 fly, 2000 Olympics). There were also several swimmers competing in master’s nationals that swam in Olympic Trials last week.  Needless to say there were lots of fast swims, several master’s world records were set in various age groups.  It was inspiring to see people in their 70’s and 80’s still swimming and in some cases still swimming pretty fast.  I can’t wait for the next meet and hopefully in 4 years they will have the meet in Omaha again.  Suzanne will post a review of the meet from a spectator’s perspective soon.



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